If you think it’s time for the Fort Worth-Arlington-Dallas Metromess (a word Static unblushingly borrows from clean-air activist Jim Schermbeck) to finally clean up the dirty air we’ve breathed here for decades, then you’ll soon have a chance to let your voice be heard –– unless, of course, your throat is sore and your brain addled from all the toxic air you’ve been swallowing.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (the mother of all misnomers) will solicit opinions about anti-pollution measures for a “do-over” clean-air plan that the state has been ordered to develop at 7 p.m. on Thu., June 24, at Arlington City Council chambers, 101 W. Abram St.
“We say, ‘Give it to them,’ ” Schermbeck wrote in a press release from Downwinders At Risk, the Midlothian environmental/political organization that’s been fighting for tougher clean-air standards for more than two decades. Downwinders pay special attention to the emissions from the huge, multinational cement plants that circle the Ellis County town and fuel its economy. The dirty emissions from the cement plants — all of which are upwind of Fort Worth and Dallas — also fuel this area’s high ozone levels in the summer.
Last summer, this area consistently violated federal smog standards of 85 parts per billion. The group’s recommendations to get this area in compliance and save the lungs of those who live here include, among other things, implementing the plan calling for state-of-the-art pollution controls on heavy industry (especially cement plants and coal-fired utilities) that stakeholders called for in 2006 but that TCEQ ignored; adopt California diesel emission standards in Texas; impose a diesel engine inspection program; control the multitudes of gas wells in the Barnett Shale that are turbo-charging the pollution already there and require the wells, tanks, and compressors to capture their smog emissions.
Last but not least, the group says, tell TCEQ to “be as tough on industry as you are on my car. … Our cars are subject to annual pollution inspections. … Big industrial polluters go for years without having to verify their emissions.”
This will be the first public discussion on air quality that TCEQ has held here in four years and the first since the appointment of tough new regional EPA administrator Al Armendariz. Not surprisingly, Gov. Rick Perry isn’t happy about the scrutiny. He says Texas air is the cleanest it’s been in a decade, and he views the EPA as intrusive and heavy-handed in its attempts to rein in pollution.